Sunday, August 26, 2012

Savin' Trails

Photo Cred: Pisgah Area Sorba

I signed up for the 45 mile Epic ride and Epic is what I got. 

The wife worked the night shift, so I got up, ate, packed and waited.  She rolled into the drive way  and I rolled out for the close to 1 hour drive to Guion Farms in Dupont State Forest.   I had a couple of goals for the day. 
  • finish in time to get to downtown Asheville for Shindig on the Green and Okie Dokes BBQ
  • finish
  • maintain a 10mph avg
  • and finish
I made it to the start with plenty of time to spare and chatted with the likes of Joel Watson, Frank Obusek and others.  I got changed and got ready.  Ate some more, waited, won some socks in the raffle,  waited, ate something.  When it was finally time to go,  60 of my best friends and I headed down the hill and into the woods.  I'm glad this was not a race, because the pace led out not too fast.

We were bombing down hill and the energy from the group behind built up, causing the leaders to miss the first turn.  Brakes squealing, tires sliding, sharp turn and we are rolling again.  I go into the woods in about 10th place (its not a race) and pick out some nice lines.

I don't pay too much attention to my goals, but keep a steady pace, riding within my limits.  I'm excited to have been able to work out my nutrition and hydration and have had success in my recent training rides.  Today will be a test of everything I have done over the past year.

Somewhere, I join the  foursome of Ian, Jane, Jon and Phil.  I ride with them for a while,  pull ahead on some gravel roads, they pass me on the downhills,  we yo yo and then they go ahead.  Or so I thought.  After aid station 2, I hear people behind me and it is the fantastic four.  We are all confused at how that happened, and try to figure it out, but cannot.

I ride with them for a while, but then start feeling really hot and a little nauseous so I let them go.  I know that in order to  finish, I have to go my own pace and with what I think is 25 miles left to go,   it is not time to push it yet.

At the top of Cedar, I hear voices and once again it is the fantastic four.  

We roll on, and split up again.  Yo yo.  

And then I start to have a bad day.  I'm hot , tired, time is ticking, I have reached 45 miles and we are on the wrong side of Dupont.   After a series of ups and downs,  Jane comes through with a cue sheet and we follow her advice.

What threw me for a loop was following the orange tape and doing some loops and trails, the same direction for the second time that day.   I'm not sure if the route was mis marked or what, but we definitely went the long way around.   We had enough food and water, but the time window was running out.

My legs were feeling good, and if the temps had been cooler, I think I could have pushed it.  But I did not dare do that.

I followed Jane, the cue sheet and the cursed orange tape, and made the final turn.  See the parking lot brought a wave of fatigue and relief. 

52 miles, 5.5 hrs, and 9.5 mph avg.

Considering the heat and extra mileage, I was very pleased with that result. 

I rolled up to the shelter,  and was aware that people were there.  I saw some coolers and headed for them hoping for a coke.  Someone said "Hey" and I thought it was Jon Stang.  It took me a couple of seconds to figure out it was Chris Strout.  I asked for Coke and I received Coke.  It was a good day.

With no time to spare, I headed to the truck, changed, drove home showered,  drove downtown, just in time to make my 4pm appointment with bluegrass and bbq!!

Can't wait until next year.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Dream Big, Start Small

Re-post from Trips For Kids WNC...  to important not to share.  Please help if you can!

I am very excited to announce that we  have passed inspection and are approved to operate a Bicycle Thrift Shop in the city of Asheville.  With the help of several volunteers, we have painted, and cleaned up a small warehouse space near just outside of Biltmore Village in the Oakley neighborhood.   Over the next week or so, we will be moving in and getting things set up for a soft opening, with a grand opening party in the works for early fall…. can we have some blue grass and BBQ?   Hopefully.
In the meantime, I must share with you our biggest need.  Several individuals, including some local bike shop mechanics have stepped up to volunteer their time in refurbishing donated bikes which is awesome.  But,  the one thing we currently lack is tools.   Park Tools is working with us to make a one time discounted purchase on tools to outfit the shop.   As you may know, purchasing this amount of tools can be quite costly.  Our goal is to raise $1000 in the next week, so that we can get the shop outfitted. Will you help with this last important piece of the puzzle?  You can donate right now by clicking here.
Thanks for reading, stay tuned for more details!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Foundry Broadaxe

 A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to demo a Broadaxe at our local "urban mtb park" : Bent Creek.  It was light, fast, stiff and responsive.  Riding around the smooth buff trails, the bike handled flawlessly, and I was tempted.  I had taken a sip of the kool aid and I wanted to see how the bike handled on the other side of the ridge,  in Pisgah proper.

The opportunity came and I jumped on it.  I took the bike home and got it set up to fit.  I am 5'11" and I chose to go with the medium.  It turned out to be a good choice.

I headed out to park in N Mills River and rolled up the 3 ish mile climb on a gravel road.  Right away, I was pleased.  This bike was light and fast. 
 Coming over the gap, I took a right turn and headed up Laurel Mtn Trail,  to do the famed Laurel/Pilot loop.  If I were going to choose this bike as my future ride, I needed to test it on some of the most technical trails that Pisgah had to offer.
 I wound up the mountain,  enjoying the awesome 70 degree morning and feeling how the bike responded, and rolled over rocks, roots and logs.  The bike is nimble....and stiff.  Towards the top of Laurel, I started feeling the bumps a little bit more, but reminded myself that this is a hard tail after all, and kept on climbing. 
 Reaching the top of Laurel and then onto the decent of Pilot Rock,  I was please at how well the bike rolled over the drops,  the big wheels doing what they were designed to do.  The stability of the bike became more apparent with each switchback,  and even though I was unable to clean all of them, I am confident that the person with the skills could make this bike do what they wanted it to.
Pisgah is cool.

Got the trail in the crosshairs.

I got to the bottom of Pilot and turned to head back on the gravel road and a soak in the ice cold creek. 

My thoughts? 
 If I bought this bike, the first thing I would do is set up the tubeless tires and add Ergon grips.

As I said before, this bike is stiff, responsive and light. 

If  racing XC or short track races is your thing,  this bike would rail and help you get to the podium.  If these were my goals, I would 100% be into this bike,  I would not even ride another bike.  It is so light that at Bent Creek, I found myself jumping off of every little rock and root.  Definitely a fun bike.

But, I am into long distance, endurance, multi day, bikepacking, stage race type of events.  After my ride today, I can't recommend this bike for these applications.   ( I am considering XC racing just so I have a reason to own this machine!).

My advice, go ride one for yourself.  Take it for a spin and see what it can do. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Long Shadows

The Ratchet has been hanging on the wall for a couple of weeks while I spent time in the woods on my mountain bike.  I was wondering how I would feel getting back on the carbon ride  and was not sure how my legs were going to hold up to the demands of the pace.  

We rolled out, Kevin and I keeping a steady warm up pace, and then peeled off.  Either the pace was slow or I was feeling good.  I chalked it up to: the pace was slow.

 At some point, the pace picked up and the group split in half like a banana at an ice cream party.  I was able to hang on  to the front group until the last climb, when Sam upped the pace AGAIN, and I was off the back.  I switched gears and put my hands in the drops to reduce wind resistance.  One thing about this bike is that I feel like there is no energy lost in pedaling.  It responds well to a smooth cadence.  I was glad to see that I kept the group in sight, and feel sure that I could have reeled them in on the next decent.  Sweet,  maybe I was feeling good after all.
 We pedaled on, chit chatted our way beside corn fields that we have seen grow all summer long.  The shadows are getting longer this time of year, and there is a hint of fall in the air.  Leaves are losing their vibrant green luster, some turning a dry green, others brown.

The changing of the seasons always comes quickly,  after getting into the routine of the previous season, I prepare myself for what lies ahead (cold) while enjoying what is happening now. 
We drive the pace down the homestretch chatting again, the miles go by quickly.  After a great discussion of various topics with Chris Strout,  I peel off on the Parkway to head for home.  The Ratchet is not afraid of a little single track!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

End of Summer Vacation: A Letter To Jubal


I am so proud of you and love you so much that I would die for you ( that as we used to tell each other is "bigger than the whole world").   Sure, you have a stubborn streak,  probably a double streak because your mom and I both have that, but learning to control it is key. And that is something we are learning together.

Second grade was a big year for you.  You learned a lot of things and grew a lot.  You learned about people and different backgrounds, and how sometime people don't always treat others with respect.  It was really tough at times and you pulled through.   Always remember the people who surrounded you and helped you get through.  Your teacher, asst teacher, principle, the classmates who stuck up for you, your parents.  We want to see you succeed,  to become the best person that you can be,  so that you can give back what you have learned.

And now, here you go again.  3rd grade.  You are going to rock it this year.  And if you don't get the Mighty Oak award,  don't sweat it,  in my mind that award pales compared to what you deserve for being  awesome.  

As tears mixed with sadness and joy stream down my face I think about the coming school year and look forward to guiding you and helping you grow,  letting you make mistakes and being there to help you up,  and watching you do it on your own. 

So, go out there, get on that school bus and make the most of every opportunity,  and use your silly, happy, goofy,  intense, passionate personality to change the world!!

You are the Bomb!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Salsa Spearfish

 Saturday I headed down to the Southern Spokes Bicycle Festival.  There was a good crowd of industry reps and it looked to be a promising weekend.  Salsa was there with there 2013 fleet.  I had not planned on riding, but had some extra time.  New bikes and new trails, I could not resist. 

I picked out a Salsa Spearfish to try out.  This would be my first ever off road ride on a full suspension bike.  I joined a small group of guys and we hammered the single track for about 45 minutes.
Not sure what to expect, I gave the bike a work out.  It was smooth.  It climbed well and took the edge off of the rooty sections.  It was smooth and stable in the corners.  I was hoping there would be some sort of rock garden, but there was none. 

 So now my conundrum.  Lightweight, stiff and responsive? or rear suspension? 
As I attempted to ride down Pilot Rock Trail on Sunday, I pondered this question.  I walked several sections that are totally rideable.  I told the wife I was scared, she said I was cautions.  That makes sense.  So,  would a full sus make me less cautious?  Probably not.  That is one reason I am leaning toward staying with a hardtail.  

Simple, less maintenance, lightweight. 

The Salsa is a great bike, and for the right person, will do great things.  For instance Chris Strout who has done really , (impressively) well at two 24 hour races this year.  He rides the Spearfish and is not to be taken lightly when he lines up on race day.  (pretty cool that he is a nice guy too).

So, we'll see what the future holds....

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Foundry Broadaxe

 I headed over to Bent Creek for the Foundry Broadaxe demo,  the Salsa guy had brought a medium and a large, along with a lot of Salsa bikes just in case someone was not smart enough to ride a Broadaxe.  I knew what I was there for and didn't spend much time looking at the array of Salsa Bikes pouring out of the truck. 
 The Broadaxe is what I wanted to ride,  to find out for myself just how awesome it is.  I had heard stories but wanted to feel it for myself.  I pulled out the medium and got it set up before rolling down the gravel road and eventually bombing down Wolf Branch. 
 On the gravel road, it was smooth, stiff and responsive.  I moved forward with the lightest push of the pedal and felt smooth. 
 After a couple miles of gravel, I turned off the road and dropped down the singletrack.  It did not take much time to get used to the responsive stability of the carbon fiber frame.  I rolled over a couple of technical trail features with no problem, the 29 inch wheel rolling over with agility.  

I had taken a little side trip earlier up the grunt climb on Ingles Field, so I could test the climbability.  It was what I expected and a little more.  The bike is so light that I was able to power up the climb with less resistance.  And when I turned around and cropped back down,  I realized quickly that I was not used to gliding over rock gardens as quickly as the bike enabled me to glide.
On down Wolf Branch, I let the reigns out over the tight twisty techy sections and rolled through with no problems.  The rooty sections towards the end were smooth and I was able to power over them in the big ring. 

The bottom line:  I love the Siren 55 SL ( 69er) that I am currently riding, but this bike is high on my wish list...very in number 1.  I can tell that over the course of a 4 plus hour, the light weight, and stiffness would conserve a lot of energy, and would definitely result in faster race finishing times. 


Monday, August 06, 2012

Family Ride

I took the family out for a ride in Bent Creek.  Fun times.  We took the gravel road from Rice Pinnacle winding around to the trail head to Wolf Branch, down and back to the parking lot.  Just a little over 5 miles of fun filled family time.  
 Taking a break at the top of the single track before dropping in, the kid asked if I was going to do the log ride.   I did not do the log ride,  I think he still loves me.
 The trusty Siren SL 55.  I love this bike,  it fits like a glove.  However, since getting on the Foundry Ratchet I have been having lucid dreams about a certain carbon bike.... nothing wrong with dreaming.
 The wife, making the new Trips For Kids WNC jersey look really fine.  Get yours now at REI Asheville... the jersey not the wife.
And finally,  feeling stoked about cleaning the techy downhill, after 2 failed attempts,  it was time to ride the bike through the creek.   The wife and kid,  I'm proud of my little tribe!!